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Music Media Businesses

Costly Music Store Coming to Cellphones 294

Carl Bialik from the WSJ writes "The new Sprint Music Store is the first legal music downloading service you can access right from a cellphone, and Wall Street Journal tech columnist Walt Mossberg gives high marks to the interface, download speed and playback quality. But he criticizes the 'stratospheric new price for the legal download of a single song: $2.50.' Sprint justifies the price because of the convenience and usability of its store. Mossberg responds, 'I believe something else is at work here: a lethal combination of two industries many consumers believe typically charge too much. One is the bumbling record industry, which has been seeking to raise prices in the fledgling legal downloading market even as it continues to bleed from free, illegal downloading. The other is the cellphone carriers, or, as I like to call them, "the Soviet ministries," which too often treat their customers as captive and refuse to allow open competition for services they offer over their networks.'"
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Costly Music Store Coming to Cellphones

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  • by jrockway ( 229604 ) * <jon-nospam@jrock.us> on Sunday November 20, 2005 @05:40PM (#14077544) Homepage Journal
    Does this line mean that Zonk went to the WSJ and cut-n-pasted this article into slashdot as though someone submitted it, or did someone from the WSJ actually submit this to slashdot?

    Either way, I'm not sure I like the precedent. (Seeing as how WSJ is subscription-based.)
    • I guess Carl Bialik emailed Zonk about it, and Zonk posted it.
      • by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @07:03PM (#14077988) Journal
        This is exploitation of drunk people, plain and simple. Just like the 10c/joke services. No one in their right mind would pay for any of these services, and I strongly believe that no one in their right mind actually does.

        These people make their money off drunk young people who find they blew hundreds of dollars on stupid inane crap when they were bored. It might not be criminal, but it's exploitative as hell.
    • Zonk was at least up front about the origin of the article. Take that as you will.

    • by hunterx11 ( 778171 ) <.hunterx11. .at. .gmail.com.> on Sunday November 20, 2005 @06:13PM (#14077712) Homepage Journal
      Carl Bialik has actually submitted quite a few articles to /. in the past.
  • by intmainvoid ( 109559 ) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @05:41PM (#14077549)
    When you think about the ridiculous prices people pay for ringtones it's not that crazy. So maybe it'll work for the songs that you just HAVE to have right now, but otherwise why wouldn't you save a few dollars and just wait till you're home and get onto the iTunes store?
    • by MoonBuggy ( 611105 ) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @05:59PM (#14077643) Journal
      I've never understood the deal with ringtones. Apart from the fact that they're usually obnoxiously irritating, on most modern phones you can just bluetooth any old MP3 to the handset and use it as a tone anyway, yet the ringtone market makes millions. I just don't get why people do it when they have a perfectly good CD collection they could use.
      • You much be rich. Most low-end mobile phones don't have bluetooth yet, nor do most computers. It's expensive.
        • by MoonBuggy ( 611105 ) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @06:19PM (#14077747) Journal
          All I have to go on is my experience in the UK, but I'd have some trouble finding a current 'average' handset without bluetooth. Pretty much all Sony Ericssons and Motorolas have it, as do newer Nokias. Samsung is lagging a little, but it seems to be in all their new models. Basically anything that would come free with a standard contract will have bluetooth, and most of the Nokias seem to come with USB cables as standard now too.
          • Ok, I stand corrected. Sorry for being US-centric-- that's what I get for posting off-the-cuff remarks.

            Europe has a better market for mobile phones then the US. We're lucky if we can get a phone that has USB capability, and they usually only use proprietary cables.

          • The parent is probobly from the US and here...our mobile phone service sucks majorly. We get shitty phones and we get them later than everyone else and we have crazy companies like verizon which go so far as to disable features on phones if customers wont pay more...it sucks but its true and there are LOTS of phones here with no bluetooth or usb (without a custom data cable).

            Now if the american public knew that whenever they start with a new phone/contract they should go to amazon.com or somewhere and g

        • Wow, are you serious? I got a $300 phone for free after rebates. It came with Bluetooth, this was a higher end model so I'm sure some $200 phones have it too now. A Bluetotoh adapter can be bought for $20 for your PC.

          So where is the expensive part?
          • by ChilyWily ( 162187 ) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @08:37PM (#14078457) Homepage
            Well, having worked in the subscriber (aka cellphone/mobile) side of things, the way this works is pretty bad:

            1. Buy cell phones at a loss from companies like Sony, Qualcomm etc.
            2. 'Incentivize' consumers to buy them for 'free' e.g., a $300 phone for $30 with a 3 yr contract.
            3. ???
            4. Profit!

            See, when operators like Sprint, Verizon, etc buy them at a loss (step 1), they get a nice *big* deduction on their Taxes. Next, (step 2), who is to say that the original $300 prices is a real price any more? Whatever they can shake down from an unsuspecting consumer who has just been led to believe he's got such a great deal is well, pure profit. I believe it is generally accounted for as a 'service fee'. The contract is there to make you a true 'user' - strange how that term once referred to drug addicts but now everyone is a user...but I digress...

            That is why operators hate to see you get unlocked gsm phones - that is why they will try to charge you by hook or crook for any and all services on that phone. I believe it Japan, they charge by the byte!

            Proprietary cables (where standardized ones would do just fine), telling people they can't load anything on their phone without downloading it from the operator etc.. these are just tricks of the game.

            At some point, all 'commodotized' services become a matter of who has how deep of pockets to rip the vast 'informed illiterate' masses.
    • by Sir Holo ( 531007 ) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @06:48PM (#14077909)
      And, as Dave Barry pointed out a week or so ago: You can't use the songs you purchase from Sprint(TM) as ringtones. Those you must purchase separately, for about $2.50. Yes, you can buy the same song twice for a single device!!! Nuts.
    • Why cell phones suck (Score:5, Interesting)

      by typical ( 886006 ) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @06:51PM (#14077928) Journal
      When you think about the ridiculous prices people pay for ringtones it's not that crazy.

      They pay this because cell phones are set up to be a closed platform, so that people can't transfer ring tones onto them. If people could just copy audio to them as easily as they do with a computer, there'd be no market -- there are *masses* of excellent, free, downloadable alert sounds for computers.

      The cell phone providers don't want to be *data transfer providers*, as ISPs are -- you pay us $N, you get M amount of data each month, and your software can do whatever you want. That's a competitive market, and much less money is involved.

      I'd love to see regulation out there that requires cell providers to allow *any* device (open platforms, maybe something running Linux, whatever) to connect to their network on a flat service rate, or metered based *only* on data provided. The current system is reminicent of the Bell hardwired telephone monopoly back before Bell was made to open up their phone system to any phone devices, as long as those devices didn't disrupt the network.

      The fact that SMSes are more expensive than voice data on a typical US plan, for example, is absurd. This kind of screwball valuation only happens in the presence of a seriously non-free market. The incentive should be to use the loose-latency-requirements, low-bandwidth-required SMSes.

      I'm one of a tiny handful of people that just won't buy a cell phone because of the fact that cells are magic black boxes run by a monopoly -- I want to be able to write (and download) my *own* alarm clock/scheduler/voicemail/etc stuff, without paying "application-level fees" to the cell provider.
      • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @08:06PM (#14078319) Journal
        What stops you using a different device? I got a pre-pay mobile in the UK, and after a few years replaced the handset with one off eBay (Ericsson T68 - quite a nice device for its time). It cost around fifty pounds (three years ago) and supported bluetooth and GPRS. You could copy arbitrary midi files to it as ring tones, I believe (I never did). Connecting it to the network was a simple matter of removing the SIM card from the old handset and putting it in the new one.
        • What stops you using a different device?

          Unavailability of compatible "different devices" in the United States, perhaps? I've looked but failed to find any providers with decent coverage in the United States that advertise SIM-only plans or any place to buy a SIM-less GSM phone in the United States.

  • by network23 ( 802733 ) * on Sunday November 20, 2005 @05:42PM (#14077551) Journal
    First: Mossberg is almost right.

    The other is the cellphone carriers, or, as I like to call them, "the Soviet ministries," which too often treat their customers as captive and refuse to allow open competition for services they offer over their networks."

    Should be The other is the U.S. cellphone carriers... since competition works and takes care of this in all other markets.

    In Sweden downloadable music for cellphones is 9 cents (0.69 Swedish Crona) per song from ComvIQ [tele2.se].

    Second: No-one outside the U.S. will ever buy music just for their cell phones. Everyone over here uses SonyEricssons excellent K750 [sonyericsson.com] or W800i [sonyericsson.com] , syncing them with iTunes and MacOSX using scripts like iTMW [fidisk.fi] or apps like Dreamsicle [kaisakura.com].

    Third: I bet a case of beer that SonyEricsson [sonyericsson.com] will include iTunes [apple.com] in their cell phones during 2006. The demand is huge and they know they will have to do it, sooner or later. Nokia will also include iTunes as soon as they realize how Real sucks bigtime.

    • by MBCook ( 132727 ) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Sunday November 20, 2005 @05:53PM (#14077610) Homepage
      First: The WSJ is a US publication, so unless they specify otherwise, "cellphone carriers" refers to "US cellphone carriers". And yes, cell service is in the US is not open and as such all prices suck.

      Second: No one inside the US should buy music for their phone. There are MP3 player phones out there (plus the ROKR). Of course, Sony is going to start selling Movies for cellphones; which continues to prove that the quantity of idiots in any country is always significantly greater than 0.

      Third: SonyEricsson won't put iTunes on their phones. Other companies will, but not SonyEricsson. If Sony Music has any pull at all, they won't let it happen. Which is too bad. Sony is such a great company (if you don't count Sony Music and Sony Pictures).

      • Is the US that behind?

        In the UK we've had video downloads for cellphones for a while, although they're only now starting to get popular (and live streaming of video, which was popular last year for a time but seems to have died off).

        We also have video ringones... (see, there *is* one born every minute...).

        I speculate that because of this the ipod video won't do too well here.. pure speculation though as it's not on sale yet (at least on the highstreet - possibly available through the apple store though).

        • Is the US that behind?

          In the UK we've had video downloads for cellphones for a while, although they're only now starting to get popular (and live streaming of video, which was popular last year for a time but seems to have died off).

          Yes! The US *is* that far behind! It's lousy. They charge alot for data access through your phone. So that means that if you don't have a data plan (ie, $20-$30 per month in addition to your normal plan) you don't get to use any of the nifty features.

          And we get to deal wi
      • by LaughingCoder ( 914424 ) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @10:20PM (#14078849)
        Second: No-one outside the U.S. will ever buy music just for their cell phones

        Actually, I read that the number 2 legal (ie pay-for) digital music download service in the UK is Orange Mobile's music download service. I believe iTunes was #1. So not only to people outside the U.S. do this, but they apparently do it quite a lot. ImAgine a wireless download service being the second largest service in the UK.
    • by EnronHaliburton2004 ( 815366 ) * on Sunday November 20, 2005 @06:08PM (#14077686) Homepage Journal
      since competition works and takes care of this in all other markets.

      The mobile providers are a cartel. They control the markets and do not allow fair and free competition. Cell phones are more expensive now then they were 5 years ago.

      I just swiched my cell phone carrier after 5 years-- ATT/Cingular ended my old plan, and I wanted a new phone.

      5 years ago, I paid a whopping $35 a month for Mobile service. This was the monthly service charge of $25, plus long distance surcharges, all taxes, additonal fees and 500 SMS messages. I use phone messaging as a pager service for my sysadmin job.

      Today, for the same service and same number of minutes, I pay $45 a month. $30 for the plan, $10 a month in taxes and additional fees, and $5 for 500 SMS messages.

      I searched for 3 months and couldn't find a better deal. The base charge is exactly the same dollar amount for the same number of minutes. Most of the increase is in the stupid fees-- "Long Distance Charge", "Verizon Wireless Surcharge", etc.
      • The only 'cheap' phone plan nowadays is a per-minute subscription with a craptabulous phone. Virgin Mobile, in particular, has had some cool plans: $20 per quarter plus a $40 phone will get you a phone 'for emergencies only'... $7 per month and the minutes rollover/accumulate (so lax months could roll into busy ones).

        At 10c per message, it'd probably not work for you personally. And between 10 and 25c per phone minute gets expensive fast for anything more than minimal usage. Still, I keep staring at that
      • by interiot ( 50685 ) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @06:53PM (#14077937) Homepage
        Mobile providers aren't a cartel per-se. In the US though, there are two things that make consumer choice with cell phones worse:

        1) Cell phones have the same problem as broadband... somebody has to install all the last-mile equipment. It's a pretty big investment, so only a handful of companies do it. And ultimately those companies are able to throw their weight around, even when they resell their traffic to other carriers [wikipedia.org].

        2) In the US, consumers buy their cell phones from the carriers, instead of directly from the manufacturer. They do this because carriers give them a big discount in exchange for a longer service contract. However, this means that the relationship between the carrier and the manufacturer is very strong, so the carriers have a lot of influence over what features the manufactuers build into phones. It's kind of like what would happen if the cable company were able to tell the TV manufacturers what to do, or if broadband ISP's were able to tell computer manufacturers what to do.

      • the linesmen and women out there climbing poles and string, uh, wait.

        Why the fuck are we being 'surcharged' for access?
    • I am old enough (barely) to remember when you had to use phone company phones. You rented big, heavy, ugly phones from the phone company. You couldn't just buy one and use it with your service. That seems to me somewhat similar (sorry, sarcasm) to how cell phones are now. I use a cell service I have had since the mid 90s because they have the best coverage in my area, but they don't have any phones I really like. Does anyone in the know have any idea if cell service will end up like landline service where y
      • "Does anyone in the know have any idea if cell service will end up like landline service where you can pick out whatever phone you want and then use it with your provider?"

        What contry/century do you live in? is it that bad in the US?
        That sounds awful, I actually feel kinda sorry for you. In scandinavia you normaly just buy your cellphone and put whatever SIM card you got from your cellular service in it and just go ahead and use it. Some phone companies will sell/give you phones which are tied to their oper
        • I am in the US, and yes it is that bad. You have to buy your phone from the wireless company. We have number portability, but your phone only works with the phone company from which you bought it. So you can switch phone companies, but then you have to buy a new phone. (There are ways to strip your phone and somehow use it with another service, but it requires some technical know how and a cooperative phone company, and even then, many of the features on your phone won't work with the new company.)
          I am not
          • You may have to buy a 'phone (you did in the UK too), but is there anything stopping you from getting the cheapest one, selling it to someone on the same network as you with an older model, and buying a new one? Presumably it's just a matter of removing the SIM and putting it in the new 'phone? In the UK, most handsets are locked to a carrier, but as far as I know no one locks SIMs to handsets (I don't even think it's possible). I got a cheap 'phone the first time I owned a mobile, but replaced it after
            • See the thing about phones in the US that you don't understand is that for the most part, they don't have SIM cards. I know it sounds crazy. So you can't just swap your service between phones, or your phone between services. The US doesn't have a single cellphone standard like GSM -- the providers all use different and incompatible (and mostly lousy) technologies. Only very recently is GSM service available (on frequencies nonstandard in the rest of the world) from one (or two?) providers.

              I moved from the U
              • by RzUpAnmsCwrds ( 262647 ) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @11:17PM (#14079038)
                See the thing about phones in the US that you don't understand is that for the most part, they don't have SIM cards.

                Well, the 65 million GSM subscribers in the US (about 40% of the market) do have SIM cards. Of course, there are lots of locked phones floating around - but that's easy to resolve. And, of course, CDMA doesn't

                The US doesn't have a single cellphone standard like GSM -- the providers all use different and incompatible (and mostly lousy) technologies. Only very recently is GSM service available (on frequencies nonstandard in the rest of the world) from one (or two?) providers.

                Stop spreading shit. The US has GSM, and has had it since 1995. There are two national GSM providers (Cingular and T-Mobile) that, combined, serve more than 65 million GSM subscribers.

                GSM 1900 and GSM 850 are standard GSM frequencies. 900MHz and 1800MHz are reserved for military communications in the US, so GSM has to run on the frequencies reserved for cellular communications (850MHz "Cellular" and 1900MHz "PCS"). GSM 850 and GSM 1900 are used throughout North America and in many other locations around the world.

                I wouldn't call CDMA2000, the other major standard in the US, "Lousey". CDMA2000 is technically superior from a radio perspective; CDMA works in places that GSM just can't handle (like 50km from a cell site). CDMA2000 1x EV-DO also offers better latency (~200ms) and bandwidth (500-700kbps, real world) than EDGE or UMTS.

                things like pay-as-you-go contracts

                Have you heard of T-Mobile To Go, Virgin Mobile, Boost Mobile, Cingular Go Phone, Net10, or any of the many other pay-as-you-go providers in the US?

                so everyone has backup phones and phones for houseguests, and can swap the handsets between services at will

                Well, being a GSM subscriber, I could certainly do this - but why I would wnat to is beyond me. Everyone has their own phone, so why would you need phones for guests? And why would you need to swap services around? It's a pain in the ass to swap SIM cards around (usually need to pull out the battery).

                Even upgrading your handset in the US is a hassle -- it involves a lot of waiting on hold to talk to someone at your carrier and waiting hours for the change to be recognized by the system, and they usually charge you a big fee for the privilege.

                This is just plain wrong. T-Mo/Cingular are GSM, so you just move you SIM over. Verizon and Sprint allow you to change your phone using a text message, at a store, over the phone, or using a web system. It takes less than five minutes, and there isn't a fee. And the change happens immediately.

                DSL and digital terrestrial TV are similarly way more flexible, competitive, standardized and useful here than in the US.

                I'll take your word for DSL, because DSL does frankly suck in the US. But digital terrestrial TV? There are few places in the US where you cannot put up an antenna and recieve free broadcast digital television. Plus, there's cable, VDSL/FIOS (if your phone company offers it), and if you don't like that, there are two DBS providers (EchoStar and DirecTV).

                So, let's summarize:
                • 65 million GSM subscribers in the US (40% of mobile users)
                • GSM operates on standard 850Mhz and 1900Mhz frequencies because of spectrum allocation in the US
                • Two national GSM providers and many local GSM providers
                • Lots of pay as you go providers
                • Handset changes easy with GSM or CDMA
                • No fee for handset change
                • Free OTA digital TV, cable, and DBS available

                So, wow, was there anything that your long rant about the US got right?
        • The US has number portability as well, and unlocked phones are available if you want to pay for them. But 90% of service plans include free or heavily discounted phones that are locked to the carrier, with the condition that you must subscribe for at least x months/years.
        • It's not that bad, as long as you buy a phone that is compatable with your network(the US has both CDMA and GSM, as well as you have to have tri-band, where in Europe, IIRC, your cell phone uses dual band), you can use it. However, if you take a provider subsidy on your phone, they will lock it down so you cannot use it on other networks, but that is what you get for buying a locked down phone.
          Also keep in mind that usage charges in the EU, even if you factor in the fact that you can receive calls for fre
      • You can now to an extent, there are two problems though:

        The first is different carriers use different network protocols. If the carriers you want to switch between are on the same type network, it'll work. For example, Cingular and T-Mobile are both on GSM networks, so an unlocked GSM phone will work with either service.

        The word 'unlocked' in that last sentence leads to the other catch. The phones you get with service are rather heavily subsidized by the cell companies, and as such, are gene
        • I had a T-Mobile BlackBerry phone and was able to get it unlocked about three months after I got it. It helped that I told them I was overseas and wanted to unlock it to use an Australian prepaid SIM card (which was the truth.) At first they said that I would receive a text message that would unlock the phone within 72 hours, but they must have thought I was still in the US. After the deadline came and went, I called them back and demended the unlock code told to me over the phone. Two minutes later, I'
  • by Travelsonic ( 870859 ) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @05:43PM (#14077558) Journal
    One is the bumbling record industry, which has been seeking to raise prices in the fledgling legal downloading market even as it continues to bleed from free, illegal downloading...

    Am I the only one who sees this statement as falsely implying that all free downloads are ilelgal as opposed to those not authorized by the copyright holder/on works in the public domain, or is it just me?

    • They're not being bled by legal downloads. The legal downloads aren't costing them anything, only the illegal ones are. (I'm assuming a lot here, including that downloading free music from non-RIAA bands doesn't negatively impact sales of RIAA bands. This doesn't really matter though, becuase you're looking to pick a fight where one clearly was not intended.)
    • Am I the only one who sees this statement as falsely implying that all free downloads are ilelgal as opposed to those not authorized by the copyright holder/on works in the public domain, or is it just me?

      You're reading it wrong.

      One is the bumbling record industry ... continues to bleed from free, illegal downloading...

      The claim is that the record industry is bleeding from free, illegal downloading. They may ALSO be bleeding from free, legal downloading, but it doesn't claim that they aren't.
  • Pricing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rahulkool ( 927588 ) <rahul3111@yahoo.ELIOTcom minus poet> on Sunday November 20, 2005 @05:43PM (#14077559)
    This type of high pricing is increasing the copying of music and other illegal activities ..... if these songs are priced properly then i think it will help in stopping piracy.
  • is that the plan might actually work. I mean, on a per minute basis, it is actually a better deal than ring tones. Who is buying this stuff and why are they buying it I have no idea. Where's Darwin when you need him?
  • by thammoud ( 193905 ) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @05:44PM (#14077567)
    Consumers will determine if the 2.50 is a lot of money for a song. Many consumers decided that forking $2+ for a ringtone was well worth it.
    • Yes, but a ringtone is a kind of personal identifier. People will stick with the same ringtone for ages and when it is heard in an office everybody knows who's phone is ringing. In other words one ringtone can have a very special meaning to someone.

      Songs, on the other hand, are listened to in private and have no special association with the listener. I really doubt that there is any real connection between what people will pay for a ringtone and what they will pay for a song.
      • I really doubt that there is any real connection between what people will pay for a ringtone and what they will pay for a song.

        But is it really a purchase if you don't need to give a credit card? That's, realistically, the major hurdle for iTMS: getting people's credit cards out of their wallets. Every time you go for the wallet (or purse), you have an extra barrier for determining whether or not something is worth buying. iTMS is already fighting a few of those. Let's take a simple scenario... You hear
        • With iTMS, you only enter your CC# once. After that, there are just two clicks standing between you and purchasing a song.
          • With iTMS, you only enter your CC# once.

            OK, I'll amend to "or proxy thereof". When I use iTMS, typically I need to enter my username/password (even when I select for it to be remembered) about half the time. The reason is, of course, because users of machines need to be authenticated (due to multiple users, on a family machine for instance). Cell phones, on the other hand, belong solely to one account that's billed regularly. Billing for songs is quicker, since the connection is automatically authenticat
        • With iTMS, you have to go to your computer (obstacle 1), remember that you went on-line to buy the song (obstacle 2), find the song (obstacle 3), enter your credit card number (obstacle 4) and then download the song (obstacle 5).

          OK, I think you are wrong about the obstacles here. iTunes actually makes it pretty easy to save your CC# and other info. Let's go point-by-point.

          you have to go to your computer (obstacle 1)

          Well, you got me there. I only spend most of the day in front of my computer. If I hear some
          • I explained above why those "barriers" don't exist for me with iTunes.

            I corrected that statement for you.

            Now, if you read my original comment, I was stating that if you hear a song in the car and wanted to download it, iTMS faces obstacles in being the venue that you download from. Your first objection doesn't apply to my argument, since I was assuming most people wouldn't download music while at their computer at work.

            Your second statement assumes that you don't get distracted while on-line. IMs, e-m
    • ...when dealing with monopolies.

      Copyright creates one such monopoly. Since marginal cost is nil, marginal revenue alone controls pricing [wikipedia.org]; as opposed to the efficient pricing based on the intersection supply and demand [wikipedia.org]. This basically means that the prices will be whatever rich kids with the most disposable income will pay, and the rest of us can go to hell.

      Since D.I.Y. production is ever more feasible, and the joy of creating music negates any costs to making music, it's obvious that the efficient, ma [wikipedia.org]
  • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @05:45PM (#14077570)
    Okay, the occasional ringtone someone has to have, I can see someone paying for.

    But to listen to half-assed quality tunes on a device not made for that and probably sucks the batterylife of said device, I don't see this thing suceeding in pulling in regular customers to make decent revenue.

    Who'd pay 1-1/2 times iTunes price? Which is already overpriced considering what I can get some used CDs for on amazon.com or ebay or half.com, etcetera.
    • For what it's worth, I did an experiment once. I loaded my Smartphone with a bunch of music and played it all day long. The phone ran for 7 hours straight, and even then there was still enough battery left to make and receive calls. The big drain on cell phone batteries is the GSM/CDMA radio. The next biggest drain is the backlit display. After that, the CPU and audio don't draw much current.
  • When it comes to mobile phone downloads, $2.50 is surely a bargain. Contrast this with the prices some people (enough people) are prepared to pay for a 30 second clip of music as a ringtone or a postage stamp size image of their favourite sports star. As if that wasn't bad enough, think of all the people paying 0.50 a pop to enjoy quality content in the form of up to 160 bytes of text.
    • Calculate the cost-per-play of ringtones vs. songs. Ringtones would probably be in the thousands of plays over a few months, while most songs would not be played more than a hundred or so times.

      So a full song might be larger, but it is also costing you an order of magnitude more in therms of use you get from it.
    • Let's not forget the costly subscription prices on non-multiplayer games for Sprint. That I still do not understand.

      Mind you, I switched Samsung phones and I lost out on the ability to play multiplayer Bejeweled. I still to this day don't know where that game is on my acconut.
  • Watching for RIAA to pay off... contribute to their congress critters in exchange for law(s) banning tune uploading software for cellphones. Then the only way to get music into a cellphone is through inband download from these stores.
  • by external400kdiskette ( 930221 ) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @05:59PM (#14077644)
    That's only half the price of a ringtone!!!!
  • by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @06:01PM (#14077654) Homepage

    This might be the first in the US... but its miles from being the first available elsewhere in the world. Usually the US is a mobile backwater that lags the rest of the world by around 2 years or so, in this case its around about that mark again.

    Japan and Europe have had legal download services for a significant amount of time either via 3rd parties or more recently directly [silicon.com], when it was being talked of as "what is next" in this market.

    So like Sprint now do NFL, Europe has been doing Football (Soccer) goals for 3-4 years. TV on your mobile... yup got that... loads of crappy shit you never want... got that... and you'll be getting it soon.

    Its expensive over in Europe too against iTunes et al, but that is down to the "convenience" factor (and normally lower quality) of the mobile downloads.

    But "first"? Not by a long chalk.
  • by Fear the Clam ( 230933 ) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @06:06PM (#14077671)
    People who use ringtones deserve to pay too much.
    • "People who use ringtones deserve to pay too much."

      Unless they make them themselves.

      I have a Motorola RAZR V3 and a Mac. The Mac has QuickTime Pro on it, so I was able to isolate what I wanted from a track ripped off a CD using QT Player. Used iTunes to convert that to mp3. Used Bluetooth to transfer that to the phone. The result turned out great.

      I know people will accuse me of being cheap, but I had a bit of fun making it myself, and it irrigates my heart with satisfaction to know that I bypassed my cellul
    • by donnz ( 135658 )
      You miss the point. These are not ringtones. They are for phones that double up as music players.

      Not to say your hypothesis is incorrect, simply misplaced.
  • by max born ( 739948 ) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @06:11PM (#14077706)
    In the context of Doc Searls' interesting essay [slashdot.org] about communications carriers in general, this is called bundling and it's a classic example of vendor-lockin.

    Sprint couldn't just give you decent Internet access and have you go out onto a competitive net and find your own music vendor. They have to try to tie you to their own over priced service. To many carriers, a free and openly competitive Internet puts puts them out of the game by reducing them to what they really are -- nothing more than carriers. Expect more of this in the future.
  • As the mad scientist laughed, the lightning gave life to the creature.
    - It's alive, Igor, it's alive...
    - What is it, master?
    - My greatest and most evil creation. Behold...

  • $2.50 per download. When a cd costs about $12 - $18. That means even for a cd with 10 tracks, the cost is $25. So, they lower their distribution cost to almost nothing and raise the price?!?!?! This is crazy. If they want people to not download the songs for free, why don't they make it affordable. If they charged a reasonable fee (like $0.25 per download, people would download songs like hotcakes around the world). Imagine the worldwide market of say 1 billion internet users and rising as opposed to the few people who will actually download this stuff.
  • by Y-Crate ( 540566 ) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @06:31PM (#14077804)
    The extortion I face when it comes time to add any content to my phone is the primary reason I'm dumping T-Mobile in January.

    My Sidekick 2 has been quite useful to me, but the damn thing is locked down hard and T-Mobile rarely even updates the content catalog, while not even offering the same broad selection that they provide to every other phone they sell. SK2 users don't get T-Zones. We get a literal handful of tracks/message alerts, 90% of which are ghetto. By "ghetto" I mean for example, the following is virtually all of the alerts they offer:

    "Baby Girl You Got"
    "Attention All Pimps"
    "Baby Mother"
    "Message Dog"
    "Check Yo Messages Cuzz"
    "Massage Message"
    "Only Pimps Get 40 Or More Messages"
    "Paging The Pimp On Premesis"
    "Remind Ya Playa"
    "What Time Is It Playa"
    "You Supposed To?"
    "Pimp To Da Strip"

    While the music section is 90% rap/r&b.

    When it comes to applications, you can count on 3 new apps/games every few months.

    I find it pretty insulting and rather pointless. It wouldn't be too hard for them to offer more, and more varied offerings, but they have resisted the considerable pressure to do so. If you are going to lock it down, at least give me something worth buying.

    The Sidekick 2 is horribly out of date anyway. It's been almost a year and a half since the hardware was refreshed, and nothing is on the horizon. I don't really want to spent $400 on a replacement, but I'm not going to sign up for another year of being spoon-fed content on an obsolete phone. I know companies will charge whatever the market will bear, but I think that there is a large section of the market outsde of the "Teenagers and college students living off of Mom and Dad's wallet" that feels a bit neglected.
  • what? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by akhomerun ( 893103 ) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @06:36PM (#14077826)
    nobody's going to use this service because the truth is that people don't want their music player inside of their cell phone. cell phones are more often than not tied to the service because of 2 year contracts, and they are disposable trash to most people, whereas people want to keep their MP3 players for a long time (they cost more than CD players, hold more music, so they should last longer)

    of course, since the nano came out, it'd probably be just better to tape the nano to the back of a normal cell phone that just makes phone calls. you probably wouldn't tell the size difference anyway. then you could have a real music player and a real phone instead of a compromise.

    companies seem to hold this myth near and dear that having multiple devices is always inconvenient.
    • Re:what? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by fermion ( 181285 ) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @07:16PM (#14078064) Homepage Journal
      They will not be selling songs, they will be selling entertainment. People will pay the money because value be added. Lets look at two examples.

      First the ringtone market seems to be booming, from over 2 billion now to maybe 5 billion in the next few years. Why do people buy these ringtones? Why not just download the song, crop it, and transfer to phone. Well, many people don't know how to do the later. And even if they did, imagine the value of showing your friends that you have a cool ringtone.You are out drinking your $5 beer or $5 coffe, perhaps $2 for a song is not so much.

      Second, people pay a great deal of money to see a concert that is mostly lights and mirrors, when an equally talented musician could be seen for much less, sans the flash. Why do people pay so much for these concerts? For the music? To be seen? For the socilization? To have beer spilt on thier clothes? Clearly the value is there.

      At the end of the day, people spend money on stupid stuff. Perhaps the market for this is kids who do not have money for an album, but can afford to buy single songs off thier phone, then figure out some way to pay for it at the end of the month. Perhaps the retailers are hoping that everyone with a cell phone will buy one song per month. Clearly the cash is there, and the impulsiveness is there. Now we have opportunity. People want phones to do cool stuff. At this markup no one has to sell a lot of songs, just a few.

  • by Master of Transhuman ( 597628 ) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @06:39PM (#14077853) Homepage
    "Sprint justifies the price because of the convenience and usability of its store."

    In other words, folks, NOBODY BUYS MUSIC! They pay for the CONVENIENCE of accessing what they view as FREE music!

    Sprint's price will prove to be too high, of course - the sweet spot has already been demonstrated by Apple to be "under a dollar".

    But the point has now been made by a major corporation - NOBODY BUYS MUSIC!

    The only reason people spend money for music is the CONVENIENCE. Only for the few decades when there was no ability to record music at home - i.e., during the early days of phonograph records and no tape recorders - did people EVER PAY for music. They paid to LISTEN to music - not the same thing at all! They paid to go to concerts, or clubs, or wherever an artist was performing.

    People will pay for a performance by a live person since they know people don't work for free.

    People will also pay for an object that lets them listen to music wherever and whenever they want - whether that's a cassette recording off the radio, or a ripped CD on an iPod.

    But they will NOT pay for music itself!

    Get a clue, music industry and artists! Change your business model!
  • by SysKoll ( 48967 ) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @07:00PM (#14077970)
    Yup, cell phone services cost a fortune. And since there are now two main telecom companies in the US, it's going to stay that way. It's about time the stock holders get some of their money back, boys and girls. Let me remind you how it was.

    Back in 1984 (how appropriate), evil Judge Greene dismantled the AT&T monopoly. Instead of a benevolent Ma Bell guiding hapless consumers through an ever-more complex world, we entered an area of free-for-all market. Ma Bell was split into 6 entities. Suddenly, there were multiple telecom providers! Phones sold in stores instead of rented! Competition! Falling prices! Granted, the USA then experienced an unprecedented telecom boom. But telecom stock went into the crapper.

    For almost two decades, this orgy of consumer felicity continued unabatted. Then, fortunately, the Clinton administration issued the 1996 Telecom Act, which watered down Greene's edict and allowed a wave of mergers to take place in the telecom industry.

    Now, only two telecom companies remain, having absorbed all the baby Bells. We are finally seeing prices climb and customer service go back into the abysses where it belongs. But it was a long, hard road.

    (Yes, it was sarcasm. Thanks for noticing).

  • Ah, Sprint (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cluening ( 6626 ) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @07:40PM (#14078194) Homepage
    This story reminds me of why I very recently left Sprint for a less painful cell phone company. I lived in Nebraska when I got my first phone, and Sprint was the big kid on the block. However, the crippled phone, horrible customer service, and nickle-and-dime tactics made made me only stick with them because they were the best of a sad lot. After moving to Chicago last year, I dropped them and moved to T-Mobile. Wow was I impressed - the bluetooth features on my phone weren't crippled, they have an almost realistic developer community, they don't try to charge you to add your own pieces to the hardware you bought. I suppose Sprint will pick up some people from this for the same reason they got me (they are the only ones doing it right now), but I'm also sure somebody else will do something like this in a more realistic way soon enough (if people want it).

    I, however, don't see any need for such a service.
  • Think about it for a second. People are spending insane amounts of money on what? Ringtones. They're paying at least $1.50 for a credit, and all they get is a MIDI copy. Spend two credits and yes, you can get the real audio sample, but it's still only a sample, not the whole song. That's around $3 for a twenty second clip if you're lucky. When you think about that for a moment, $2.50 doesn't really seem all that demonic.

    Then you take into account what your network charges you to be online and downloading, a
  • by Fantasio ( 800086 ) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @08:32PM (#14078432)
    -How many of our customers are stupid enough to pay $2.50 for this ?

    -Well ...only one in one thousand !

    -Let's see : $2.50 x (# customers) / 1000 .....Hey! it's profitable !

    -Let's go for it...

  • insane (Score:3, Insightful)

    by austad ( 22163 ) on Monday November 21, 2005 @01:21AM (#14079462) Homepage
    That pricing model is insane. If the average CD has 10 songs, it will cost me $25 to download a CD worth of songs. But what's more crazy, is that people are going to do it. And what's even crazier than that, is that the record companies are going to use it to go back on Apple and say "we are selling tunes for $2.50 through Sprint, this is irrefutable proof that you need to raise your prices." In reality, it proves nothing except that people are stupid and don't realize what they are spending until they get their bill at the end of the month.

    Personally, I have a hard time justifying spending 99 cents on a track through iTunes. It's not that I cannot afford it, it's just the principle behind it. Basically I'm giving 2 or 3 cents (best case) to the actual artist, while a bunch of greedy bastards get rich by screwing the very people that keep them in business (both consumers and artists). This has been gone over a million times here before, so there's not really any need to explain this further.

    I haven't purchased a CD in roughly 3 years. I listen to satellite radio, and I go to shows when the artists I like are in town. BTW, satellite radio is a great way to find excellent artists that are not signed with RIAA labels.

"Oh my! An `inflammatory attitude' in alt.flame? Never heard of such a thing..." -- Allen Gwinn, allen@sulaco.Sigma.COM